Glasheen Boys' National School, Cork
BA French and Classical Civilisation in Trinity College Dublin
Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
I chose Hibernia College as it offered me the flexibility to stay living in Cork where I am based, and to be able to do some part-time work during the PME. The course also offered me the freedom to create my own study timetable and hours tailored to my lifestyle.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
Before starting the PME, I had been working in the arts sector in art museums and galleries as a gallery assistant and tour guide both at home in Ireland and abroad in New York City, where I worked as a gallery assistant in the Whitney Museum of American Art. I also spent time working as a nanny in NYC with two young children. During the COVID-19 pandemic I had some time to reflect on career prospects. Knowing that I love working with children, I decided to apply for the PME. Teaching can be a very creative career, and I enjoy integrating visual arts into my teaching.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
My research project centered on teacher perspectives on the concept of ‘visual literacy’ and the ‘looking and responding’ strand unit in the Visual Arts curriculum. The primary aim was to investigate whether ‘looking and responding’ activities promote student engagement and student’s’ verbal skills. Another aim was to discover teacher interpretations of visual literacy. I focused on this area due to a passion for looking at and speaking about art with children in gallery and museum settings, having observed excellent engagement amongst children when engaged in ‘looking and responding’ activities in gallery settings. Noticing that there was no specific time allocation for ‘looking and responding’ activities in the Visual Arts curriculum, I was curious to learn more about the practical reality of teaching this strand unit in the classroom.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
My plans now that I have graduated are to complete the Droichead process in my school this year and to continue my work as a learning support teacher for Junior Infants. I plan to complete more Continuing Professional Development relating to special education teaching this year, too.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
For any person considering starting a PME, I would suggest starting as soon as you can, because the sooner you start, the sooner you are out there qualified and teaching. Prioritise the course but incorporate days off as rest is paramount. Lean on your regional group peers, as it is the people who are in the same situation as you who understand the highs and the lows. Share ideas and resources and meet up for coffees and chats if you can. It really helps to know that it is a shared experience.